Pennsylvania architecture studio ISA has designed a five-story house in a developing Philadelphia neighborhood, as a housing prototype for tiny vacant lots. ISA – Interface Studio Architects has placed a 1250 square-feet home on a 12 by 29 feet lot, whose similarly scaled neighbors are currently used as single-car parking and rear yards for the adjacent houses. The design promotes vertical living for both indoor and outdoor space, occupying the entire footprint of the site in the required setbacks with a lower level window garden, a second level walk out terrace, and a roof deck.
Although it measures only 38 feet in height, Tiny Tower is organized like a full-scale skyscraper. Linked by a strong core of vertical circulation, each level is similar in size and quality, allowing for flexible programming. With a kitchen at the lower level and tucked away bathrooms on upper ones, each floor is free to define live, work and play in multiple configurations.
The biggest challenge in a vertical house with a tiny footprint is stair configuration. A folded plate metal stair with winder treads pushed up against the front facade of the building creates a dramatic, light-filled circulation stack that affords surprising views inside and out as well as a sense of adventure for the occupants. The experience of going up and down the stair is integral to the daily life of the building.
Urban dwellers are increasingly willing to trade quantity of space for quality. Living in a small unit in a vibrant, walkable neighborhood is more desirable than a larger home in a far-flung location. Tiny Tower demonstrates how small in scale can feel large in amenity and experience.